Fire That Destroyed Montgomery County School Was Intentionally Set: Officials

An early morning fire that destroyed a 120-year-old building that housed a Montgomery County school was intentionally set according to investigators.

The fire started around 6:30 a.m. Saturday at Wyncote Academy on the 7900 block of Washington Lane in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. The fire was placed under control at 10:30 a.m.

No one was hurt during the blaze. On Monday the Cheltenham Fire Marshall revealed evidence indicates the fire was an arson.

"The initial investigation indicates an incendiary cause with the fire deliberately set," the Fire Marshal said.

The fire caused heavy damage to the school’s roof and the building is a total loss.

Classes were canceled Monday and Tuesday. Wyncote Academy students started classes at Gratz College on Old York Road Wednesday. They will remain there for the foreseeable future.

Since the fire, the surrounding community has donated boards, desks, filing cabinets, chairs and refrigerators to the school.

Founded in 1973, Wyncote Academy is a licensed, non-profit, private school that serves special needs and at-risk students in grades 6 through 12.

"We have a lot of kids who have been victims of bullying and so they come to our school looking for a safe place to be," said Kerry Leraris, the Head of School of Wyncote Academy. "And honestly, now once again they've been traumatized because their school is no longer."

D.J. Williams, a 9th grade student at the school, described the impact the academy has had on her life.

"I was not the best student at my public school," she said. "But since attending Wyncote I've been an honor roll student two times now."

Staff members are still hopeful for the future however.

"We will rebuild," said Brock Weir, a Wyncote Academy graduate and staff member. "We'll create new work and we'll start new memories in a new location and hopefully we'll come back here and rebuild. We're going to carry on. Wyncote is going to remain Wyncote strong."

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